In his letter ('Important questions need to be asked about how the ESF spends its money', August 2), Jim Wilson asked a few very important questions about the governance and the financial control of the English Schools Foundation.
Let me point out that ESF was subjected to a stringent review of its governance and management practice by the Director of Audit in 2004. The very thorough report was debated at length by the public accounts committee of the Legislative Council and resulted in a detailed action plan whose implementation was monitored by the committee for the following four years and which resulted in the implementation of the amended ESF Ordinance in 2008.
It is only because Legco and the Education Bureau are satisfied with the improvements that have been made by the ESF that capital funding for Kowloon Junior School and now the recurrent subvention are on the agenda at all.
Like all major organisations, the ESF has an audit committee, a finance committee and a remuneration committee; all of them are chaired by independently appointed ESF board members under the terms of the revised ordinance. Detailed accounts, audited by one of the major international accounting firms, are lodged with the Companies Registry and have been displayed on the website for many years. The board and its remuneration and finance committees make decisions about costs, including the review of staff contracts, with the greatest care. We are very well aware that all our actions are closely scrutinised.
The ESF is a complex and sophisticated organisation which needs to be managed by experienced and skilful people at both board and executive level.
As incoming chairman, with 32 years of experience with a major international accounting firm, I have been impressed by the thoroughness and transparency of the ESF's financial procedures and with my colleagues on the board who come from a full range of business and professional backgrounds.
The ESF is well prepared for the review of the subvention and we are confident that it will lead to a favourable outcome.
Carlson Tong, chairman, English Schools Foundation